Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Moon's a Balloon

The Moon's a Balloon is the hilarious, honest and tremendously entertaining autobiography of that impressive actor, David Niven.

Ok, since I've used so many adjectives in the first sentence, I don't have to tell you how much I loved the book.

Sometimes, I wonder how it is that so many things can happen to one person. If Niven had written his autobiography at ten years of age, it would have been many times longer than my autobiography if I wrote one now, at 30. My autobiography would finish in one page. But I am digressing.

Niven writes with panache and ease, and has the most wonderful way of describing funny incidents. He also has the knack of laughing at himself, which makes him very endearing.

He writes about his rebellious childhood, how he was expelled from school, how he joined the army, how he left (After a General finished a long lecture and asked, "Any questions?", Niven said, "May I know the time, I have a train to catch.").

After he left the army, he floated here and there for a while, after which he drifted to Hollywood to try his luck. The going was difficult at first, but only until he signed a contract with Samuel Goldwyn. He then did some good work, and he was just tasting success when World War II broke out. He dropped a promising career in Hollywood against the advice of all his friends, and sailed back home to join the British Army. Six months away from the industry, he says, is suicidal for an actor, but Niven came back after six years (the duration of the war), was accepted, and he went on to star in some memorable roles and picked up an Oscar on the way. And oh, the Oscar story is wonderful!

He writes candidly about his personal life, the various women who came in and out of his life, some named, some unnamed. He writes about his love for his first wife, her tragic death, his second wife, all his friends in Hollywood, the army, and elsewhere.

He has apologized right at the beginning for name dropping - and does he do it with panache! I will never look at some of the Hollywood greats in the same way again - having got just that minute insight into their lives, through the eyes of Niven! No, no, he has only good words for most of them - and those few that he doesn't speak so well of, are unnamed.

Some of the passages in the book had me clutching my stomach and rolling about, laughing. The advantage of reading a book by an actor you have seen and liked, is that you kind of imagine him saying it all aloud. And when I imagine that upright bearing, and that stiff upper lip rattling off all that he says, it makes it all the funnier.

I highly recommend this book. Especially if you like David Niven.

13 comments:

Swaram said...

Thank u so much for the review for now I know my next read.

Sachin said...

Your autobiography would get over in a single page? And what do you think most of your blog is??

And what about your "Township Tales"? That can constitute a min book all on its own!!

Good review!!

The good life said...

Nice write up. Will check out the book, thanks
Btw.. I did see your photo via the story link on your blog. You are exactly as I had imagined, smiling enthusiastic, with a sparkle in the eye! :)

Shruthi said...

Swaram, hope you enjoy it!

Sachin, yeah, but that's commonplace - isn't it?

The good life, oh wow, thanks :)

Mama - Mia said...

sounds awesome!

cheers!

abha

Sachin said...

Thats what you think, Shruthi. Its common place events such as these when told well that form a grand tale. The trick is to get people to identify with your writing.

Ask your readers what they think and then you'll realize what I mean. :-)

Anil Jagalur said...

Ah! A great review by fellow fan of both the author and this book. You should try "Bring on the Empty Horses" and "Go Slowly, Come Back Quickly" too.

MIB is the best. ;-)

M S Raghunandan said...

one more nice review.

ben said...

A little off topic, and hence, my apologies.

Is there any way that your prize winning short story can be viewed or read online? (the one in the Deccan)

Thanks!

kusublakki said...

Thanks shruthi! You gave me a book to read today :)

PeeVee said...

OK now I'm officially bored of looking at this Moon's a Balloon thingie. WRITE A NEW POST!!

rajk said...

Hi Shruthi, thanks for your comment on my blog. Good to know there are crazy readers like me around;-)
I had never heard of David Niven, but thanks to you, his autobio is on my wishlist.
(This one's for PeeVee - I'm so glad this post stuck around for so long..I might have missed it otherwise. And regarding writing something new, LOOK WHO'S TALKING!!

Shruthi said...

Abha, it is!

Sachin, perhaps - the journey being more important than the destination, and all that.. perhaps.

Anil mama, ah, I will check with my uncle and see if he has those books :D

Raghu mama, thank you!

Ben, apologies for the late response. The story will be published in May. Will give a link to it on my blog then.

Kusublakki, hope you enjoy reading it!

Peevee, there you go!

Rajk, heh heh :D

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